What a magnificent innings for wonderful Eli Wallach, who has died in his 99th year. And what a tremendous career for one of the best of America’s character actors. Even a quick run through his credits throws up classics from almost every decade in which he was active. Check ’em out: Baby Doll, The Misfits, The Magnificent Seven (pictured as bandit chief Calvera who dies uttering “A man like you, why…?”), How the West Was Won, The Good, the Bad and the Ugly, Circle of Iron, The Executioner’s Song, The Hunter, The Godfather III, Mystic River (as feisty liquor store Mr Loonie, an uncredited gag for director Clint Eastwood) and The Holiday. And for fans of camp TV he was Mr Freeze in Batman, which led to his biggest mailbag of fan letters.
But it was probably for Sergio Leone’s great western stand-off – in a cemetery with Clint Eastwood and Lee Van Cleef – in The Good, the Bad and the Ugly that Wallach will be best remembered. He was a deliciously shifty villain and effectively stole the show from his compadres. Stars should always beware a good character actor. And Wallach was the best.
Born: December 7 1915
Died: June 24 2014